Early summer 2017. My wife and I are finally doing it—the Holy Pilgrimage of St. James the Apostle in northern Spain, AKA the Camino. I was 77, Cedar 72. Except for a few lame people—there were some—we would be the slowest pilgrims under way. “Buen Camino!” others would tell us as they left us in their wake: “Have a good Pilgrimage!” In mid-afternoon, though, we would pass these folks. We had a couple of hours to go. They were now sitting outside a café, enjoying their tinto, the red vin ordinaire Spaniards call “ink.” Still, we managed to walk 200 kilometers, or 120 miles, in nine days, with one rest day in the middle. Not bad for two geriatric peregrinos!
For Marianna’s Birthday – September 1st
Let me be like the leaves on the trees,
Moving only with the breeze.
Or like the flicker family,
“If you feel like you don't fit into the world you inherited it is because you were born to
help create a new one.”
~Ross Caligiuri (found in Alan Cohen’s “Daily Inspiration” for 8/11/2019)
The world we are born into is our family. In traditional societies it is an extended one. For those of us in the so-called developed world, it is the nuclear one. And of course, for too many these days, it is a fractured or fracturing one, generally headed by an overburdened, under-resourced mom.
May 14, 1607. Jamestown, now in Virginia, became the first English colony in what would later be the United States. It was not the first European colony in our future country. That honor is reserved for Spain, which founded St. Augustine, Florida, in September 1565, some 42 years earlier. Jamestown, named from James I of England, the king who also authorized the King James Bible, sent three boatloads of upper-class Englishmen, who subsisted mainly by trade with the local Indians.
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety. . . .” So says Shakespeare about Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra. Now I don’t know about the Serpent of the Nile, but as for me, age has certainly withered me. Or more specifically, my withers. Or even more specifically, my knees. It started about 25 years ago. After having run-walked the annual Honolulu Marathon for the second time in a row—I went on to do it four more times!—I became aware of a gnawing pain in my left knee.
Some summers ago I attended a free concert here in Boulder. Called “Band on the Bricks,” the event was a gift of the City of Boulder. That evening there was a Beatles cover band. They weren’t fantastic, but they were good. And of course the Beatles’ music was and is great. Cedar and I went along with my younger daughter, Christine, who was visiting. Not only is she a Beatles fan; she’s a Beatles scholar, with a communications Ph.D. focused on Mod culture and a third book in process on The Women of the Beatles to prove it.
Asian cultures are famously respectful of teachers. The Chinese characters for the term are “old” + “soul,” even on the Mainland. The Japanese sensei is also used as the most honorific form of address. The prime minister, for example, is called sensei, teacher. And nowadays in the West no one needs to explain the respect contained in the East Indian term guru.
Freud thought biology was destiny. It was not an idea likely to find favor among feminists, and it didn’t. Freud also introduced the concept of penis envy. Clearly, to his way of thinking, women could never be kings, only queens, and the latter were, for the most part, consorts rather than rulers. If gaining worldly power was the name of the game, the fairer sex had without doubt been disadvantaged. They had every reason, he thought, to be envious.
In 1994 a successful investment banker in San Francisco, Claude Rosenberg, Jr., published Wealthy and Wise. Based on the tax laws, he argued, America’s richest citizens could do better financially for both themselves and the country by donating from their net assets versus their income. Rosenberg had done so himself by establishing a foundation. To be honest, as someone who has never amassed much money, I tend to consider the rich, per Jesus, as likely to have a hard squeeze getting into Heaven. Pure envy, I’m sure. Yet I can’t ignore Bill and Melinda Gates, who have used many of their billions to establish the world’s largest private foundation, now doing so much to lessen HIV-AIDS in Africa among other good works.
A few years ago, a great teacher whom we knew died. He was, directly and indirectly, responsible for improving the lives of tens of thousands of people. He is assured of a continuing presence in Wikipedia. Yet he was also tragically unable to acknowledge the love and respect of his students and was hurtfully dismissive of those who offered him constructive criticism. In short, with all his virtues and contributions, he was a less-than-perfect human being. Just like the rest of us. The beginning of wisdom is knowing, really knowing, that we are not God. Then acting accordingly.